Stanley Tucci and Ving Rhames
You’d think that hulking, Harlem-born actor Ving Rhames of “Pulp Fiction” and “Mission: Impossible” fame was always Ving Rhames. However, the man known to his family and friends as Irving Rameses Rhames didn’t achieve Ving-dom until his roommate and fellow drama student at SUNY Purchase, Stanley Tucci, suggested that he shorten his name to the more zippy and memorable “Ving.” The name change must have also given the man now known as Ving a new pair of wings, because after one year of studying drama at SUNY Purchase, Rhames received a scholarship to study classical theater at Julliard and transferred.
Rhames’ old roomie stayed at SUNY Purchase and graduated in 1982. While it’s unclear whether Tucci went on to generate the stage names of future roommates during his time at SUNY Purchase, he did go on to find acclaim in a slew of food-minded films such as “Julia & Julia,” “Big Night” (which he also directed, wrote and co-produced) and, um, “The Hunger Games.” In 2012, he released a critically lauded Italian cookbook titled, simply, “The Tucci Cookbook.”